City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Elizabeth Hamilton (1758-1816)
Elizabeth Hamilton (1756?–1816) was a Scottish essayist, poet, satirist and novelist. She was most probably born on 25 July 1756, though the date is often given as 1758. Born in Belfast to Charles Hamilton (d.1759), a Scottish merchant, and his wife Katherine Mackay (d.1767), she lived most of her life in Scotland, moving there in 1762 to live with a Mrs Marshall, her paternal aunt, near Stirling and spending much of her later life in Edinburgh. She died in Harrogate in England after a short illness.
Her first literary efforts were directed in supporting her brother Charles in his orientalist and linguistic studies. After his death in 1792 she continued to publish orientalist scholarship, as well as historical, educationalist and theoretical works. She wrote The Cottagers of Glenburnie (1808), a tale which had much popularity in its day, and perhaps had some effect in the improvement of certain aspects of humble domestic life in Scotland. She also wrote the satirical novel Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800), and the anti-Jacobin Letters of a Hindoo Rajah in 1796, a work in the tradition of Montesquieu and Goldsmith. Her most important pedagogical works are Letters on Education, Essays on the Human Mind (1796), Letters on the Elementary Principles of Education (1801), Letters addressed to the Daughter of a Nobleman, on the Formation of Religious and Moral Principle (1806), and Hints addressed to the Patrons and Directors of Schools (1815).